How Familiar Are You With Your Home? Something Every Homeowner Should Know
All homeowners know where their main water and electrical shut-offs are located-
Some don’t. Not only should you know where they are located but it’s equally important to know how they work. In case of an emergency, such as, a broken water pipe, do you know how to shut off the water? Have you tested the shutoff recently to make sure it still works?
Recently, we were at two homes. In each home, the homeowners did not know where their water shutoff was located. In one home, a condo, we were unable to locate it so we called the city. The city said they could not tell us where it was over the phone but that they would send someone over to find it. Unfortunately, someone wasn’t sent over. After a lot of searching, we found the city shutoff two blocks from the house. We finally found the shutoff in the home, which happened to be hidden in a wall.
The second house, a townhouse, we had found that it had a broken water shutoff inside a bathroom vanity. The home was not on the city’s grid for water meters so there is no way to find the main shutoff from the street. The customer had to contract a plumbing contractor who used equipment to locate the pipes underground – a very expensive operation.
Whether you own the home or not, it is important to locate your electrical box for safety reasons and peace of mind. Make sure it is accessible at all times and do not store items in front of it. Find the main switch and give it a test. Shut down the power to your house after shutting down and unplugging all electronics and HVAC system.
Next, see if you have clearly marked water shutoff valve in your house. Common places to check is inside closets, under the kitchen sink, or in your laundry room. Once you locate it, check out the operation of the valve by shutting it off. Did the water in your house turn off? If you cannot find a shutoff inside your house, locate the main water shutoff in your front yard – it could also be in your driveway or in the grass. Once you find it, use a large screwdriver to remove the cover (you might need to remove the dirt and grass that has grown over the box cover). Also, there may be ground water in the box – simply use a cup or pail to remove the water. You should now be looking at the main water line and it will have a meter and valve on it. The valve will be pointing in the direction of the meter (same direction as the pipe) when it is on. You can now shut off all the water to the house by turning the valve ninety degrees. Sometimes, this can be done with pliers but it is easier if you have a curb key (you can find one at Lowes for under $10! and comes in handy).
Get familiar with your main water valve and electrical box now so you are prepared for any situation!
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